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Trump Accuses Rubio of Missing Senate Votes; Hillary on the Attack; Carson Under Fire for Insensitive Remarks on the Oregon Shooting; Conservatives Target Kasich for Taking Medicaid Expansion; Death Toll Rises, Dams Breach In South Carolina; Cargo Ship Captain Planned To Outrun Hurricane; From Couch To An Ultra-Marathon. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired October 6, 2015 - 16:30   ET



DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And they privately insist he's not going to pay a price with presidential primary voters for missing Senate votes because they say many of those voters view the Senate as a waste of time anyway.

And one other interesting note, Jake, and that is, the former senator, freshman senator, who is now in the Oval Office, he missed even more votes, all told, than Rubio has so far.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Still, those attacks from Jeb Bush and Donald Trump against him missing votes, quite biting.

BASH: Pretty tough.

TAPPER: Yes. Dana Bash, thank you so much.

On the Democratic side, waiting on Joe Biden. His friends say he sounds privately more and more like a candidate. Today, he sat down for lunch with President Obama -- the latest on when the vice president will decide next.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Let's stay with our politics lead right now.

She spent the summer trying to play defense. But now Hillary Clinton is trying to take the fight to her opponents, dropping a TV ad in which a disembodied voice accuses Republicans of wasting your hard- earned taxpayer dollars on what Clinton has insisted is a purely partisan exercise, the Benghazi investigative committee.


But Clinton raised some eyebrows Monday night by taking some subtle swipes at her ex-boss, President Obama.

Let's get right to CNN senior Washington correspondent Jeff Zeleny joining us from Davenport, Iowa.

Jeff, first, there was Arctic drilling, then Keystone. Now it's deportations, all issues where Clinton seems to be trying to distance herself from President Obama.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: No doubt, Jake, those are some top examples. You can add the Syrian no-fly zone and the Cadillac tax in Obamacare as other examples that Hillary Clinton is trying to point out that she's moved to the left on for this primary electorate.

But the biggest way she's trying to rally Democrats is to go hard after Republicans and specifically that congressional hearing in just 16 days.



ZELENY (voice-over): Hillary Clinton back in Iowa today, and finally playing offense.


ZELENY: She's taking to the airwaves, seizing on House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy's suggestion the committee investigating the Benghazi attacks is designed to bring down her candidacy.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi special committee. What are her numbers today?

NARRATOR: Republicans have spent millions attacking Hillary.

ZELENY: It's the first national television ad of her campaign, taking on Republicans, but not overlooking the Democratic race that's tougher than she imagined, with Bernie Sanders catching fire with liberals, and Vice President Joe Biden waiting in the wings

Clinton is trying to hold on to her claim as Democratic front-runner. Day by day, she's putting more distance between her positions and President Obama's. She's saying yes to a Syrian no-fly zone. She's saying no to Keystone XL pipeline and she's speaking out forcefully against U.S. deportation.

In an interview with Telemundo, she outlined one of the biggest splits with the president, saying, "I think we have to go back to being a much less harsh and aggressive enforcer."

QUESTION: It sounds like you have a rationale for running.

ZELENY: But it's Vice President Biden who is captivating the party's interests, as he nears a decision about the 2016 race.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hope you run, man. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Joe Biden, will he be making a decision this weekend?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he's going to get in. You say?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He and Jill Biden have to have that conversation.

ZELENY: Biden kept out of public view today, holding his weekly White House lunch with the president. But speculation about his political future raged. In Iowa today, those lining up to see Clinton had Biden on their minds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Competition is always good. And that's his choice. So, he needs to decide that.

ZELENY: But several Democrats hoped Biden stayed on the sidelines.

BECKY HAUSMANN, IOWA VOTER: I'm pretty satisfied between Hillary and Bernie. I like both of them.

ZELENY: Few people are eagerly awaiting an answer more than Clinton. But, today, she played it cool, joking about her star turn on "Saturday Night Live."

CLINTON: You know, I have been trying out different possible careers, and, you know, I kind of like the bartending idea.



ZELENY: Now, she drew cheers and applause for that line. But inside the Clinton campaign, Jake, I can tell you they are focused on if and when Biden decides he's going to run.

One group that is supportive of the Clinton campaign called Correct the Record, they're already starting opposition research, looking into the vice president's long voting record. This could be setting up to be a very messy Democratic primary fight if he gets in -- Jake.

TAPPER: Jeff Zeleny, thanks so much.

Joining me, Maria Cardona, Democratic strategist and CNN political commentator, and Katie Packer, Republican strategist and former deputy campaign manager for Mitt Romney 2012.

Thanks to both of you for being here.

Maria, let me just start with you.

As we last heard, Hillary starting to try to distance herself from President Obama. She was his secretary of state of course for four years. That's perhaps easier said than done.

MARIA CARDONA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I actually don't think that should surprise many people, Jake. As you know, she was his opponent in 2008. They are two very

different people. That's not to say that she wasn't the consummate team player when she came on board as secretary of state. They're very close friends. And I think what we hear her also say on the campaign trail is how much she thinks that he has been an extraordinary leader in very difficult times for the United States.

And I think that part of her argument for continuing her presidency, if she wins, is to make sure that his big legacy items like Obamacare, continuing to focus on jobs and making sure there's a level playing field for middle-class families, that's what she's focused on.

But on these other issues, I don't think that people should be that surprised that she is trying to find some room and as she looks at and as she listens to people in terms of what their concerns are.

TAPPER: Yes. You really think their close friends?

CARDONA: I do, Jake. Yes, I do.

TAPPER: OK. Interesting.

Katie, I want to ask you about something Dr. Ben Carson, who is number two in the polls on the Republican side, said this morning on "FOX and Friends." He was specifically asked about the mass shooting in Oregon, specifically what would happen if a gunman pointed a gun at him and asked him his religion. Take a listen to what Dr. Carson said.



BEN CARSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Not only would I probably not cooperate with him. I would not just stand there and let him shoot me. I would say, hey, guys, everybody attack him. He may shoot me, but he can't get us all.


TAPPER: Critics have been hammering Dr. Carson for that. What do you think?


I think it was an extraordinarily insensitive comment to make and I don't think any of us can know how we would react under those kind of circumstances. And I think it points to a larger topic, which is that these candidates that sort of get these bumps in the polls, all of a sudden, they come under a lot more media scrutiny that they're used to and they have gaffes.

And I think that this was a huge gaffe on the part of Dr. Carson. I'm guessing he wishes he could take those words back. It was an extraordinarily insensitive thing to say and I don't think representative certainly of the Republican Party at all. TAPPER: Maria, I want to ask you about something. Conservatives are

attacking Governor of Ohio John Kasich, who is running for president, for taking the Medicaid expansion dollars from Obamacare.

I want you to take a listen to what he said today about that decision.


GOV. JOHN KASICH (R-OH), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look at Medicaid expansion. You know, you know how many people are yelling at me? I go into events where people yell at me. You know what? You know what I tell them? I mean, God bless them, I'm telling them a little bit better at this.

I said, there's a book. It's got a new part and an old part. They put it together. It's a remarkable book. If you don't have one, I'll buy you one. And it talks about how we treat the poor.


TAPPER: How about that as a response? I don't know if you're divided on this, since you love Obamacare, but you're not -- you don't love Governor Kasich, but like familiar -- he's basically saying, I'll buy you a Bible.

CARDONA: Yes. you know what?

I actually respect Governor Kasich for that kind of answer, which is you have similar to the conversation that he had with Dana Bash when he talks about how conservative principles actually do include taking care of the poor.

Now, I don't think that he did himself any favors running in the Republican primarily like he did. He said this at the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. I'm a member of the board and I was watching. And when he said that, I said, this is going to be a problem for him. The right-wing blogosphere went nuts.


CARDONA: And so I think this is going to be a problem for him.

TAPPER: They're not a fan of it, Katie, because they think he is saying, I took Obamacare dollars because I'm a Christian. And they think it's a sanctimonious answer.

PACKER: Well, whatever his reasons are for taking Obamacare dollars, there's nothing in the Bible that instructs you that you have to give your money to the government to take care of the poor.

The admonishment is that we're going to take care of the poor. And I think that's where you see objection come from the right, is they're saying there is a natural role to take care of the poor. We don't particularly trust government to be good stewards of those dollars.

TAPPER: Let me ask you about this flap about Marco Rubio missing votes. Dana talked about that earlier. He's getting hit by Jeb Bush, he's getting hit by Donald Trump. Do you think this is a legitimate issue?

PACKER: I think it's a silly issue. He hasn't missed nearly the kind of votes that President Obama missed when he was running or that Hillary Clinton missed...

TAPPER: Right, as Dana pointed out.

PACKER: ... as was pointed out. I suspect when Jeb Bush's dad was running, he was probably missing time in the U.S. Senate, when arguably he could have been presiding.

This is what candidates do. It's also what candidates do to try to slam other candidates for it. At the end of the day, I don't think it's an issue that voters are particularly concerned about. And to date, he hasn't missed anything that was incredibly consequential in terms of the numbers.

CARDONA: Well, except if you count the government shutdown that -- some voters would say that's consequential. But I think this actually means that he is rising in the polls and that Trump and everybody else are kind of afraid of him. He's probably relishing this.


TAPPER: Only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.

Katie Packer, Maria Cardona, thank you so much to both of you.

CARDONA: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: This programming note. Of course, you can watch the first Democratic presidential debate right here on CNN. It's in one week, next Tuesday, October 13. Coverage starts at 8:30 p.m. Eastern. Anderson Cooper will moderate. We will all be out there for the fun.

In our national lead, the death toll rising after flooding in South Carolina, and the waters are still raging. That's next.

Plus, a desperate search for survivors caught on a ship in the middle of Hurricane Joaquin. Why didn't the captain change course? We now have some answers.


[16:45:55] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Powerful flooding is crippling South Carolina after days of rain and a scare by Hurricane Joaquin that moved just off the coastline. Today the death toll rose to 14 weather-related deaths. Two other people died in North Carolina.

In seven sad cases people drowned. Others were killed in traffic accidents. Several communities fearing the worst, as dams reached their breaking point. Nine dams in South Carolina have breached since rain started last week.

In some cases, authorities are purposely letting water escape to prevent larger incidents. Another flooding fear is water flowing downhill from upstate. Midland cities like Columbia are warning low- lying communities need to evacuate their homes.

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley is also begging people to obey the 400-plus road closures some people have been making dangerous decisions to move traffic barriers and drive into high water.

The World Lead now, a new investigation is looking into how a cargo ship now sunken in the ocean would steer right into the path of Hurricane Joaquin. The storm's forecast changed significantly when "El Faro" left port in Jacksonville Tuesday night.

Now the Coast Guard is finding debris near the ship's last known position. Did the captain try to outrun the storm? CNN's Rene Marsh is following the search and the investigation into what happened. Rene, what have you learned?

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION AND GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: What we know now is that the Coast Guard is still actively searching for survivors. We also know that families, simply holding on to hope that there are actually survivors. So far, they found damaged lifeboat, life jackets, cargo containers and one body.

But the other 32 who were on board still unaccounted for. We know that the ship had mechanical problems, lost power and of course, it was no match for the 50-foot waves and those 140-mile-per-hour winds.

[16:50:07] TAPPER: What are investigators saying why the captain attempted to make the voyage. People knew that a hurricane was coming.

MARSH: Right. The forecasts were out there. The owner of the cargo ship saying that the captain had a sound plan to essentially avoid the storm. They're supposed to know exactly what's going on minute by minute. There is supposed to be equipment on board that sends weather updates from NOAA.

We do know from our own CNN weather department that at 5:00 p.m. the forecast showed that this would reach hurricane strength and the ship's path would take it straight towards the storm. That's a whole three hours before the cargo ship actually left the port that according to

So, Jake, a part of the investigation is looking into the decision making process. Who knew what, what information did they have at the time, and who whose decision was it to go ahead with the mission?

TAPPER: And quickly if you could, Rene, the NTSB got to the scene of the accident. What have you learned from their investigators?

MARSH: We know that their priority is finding something called voyage recorder, similar to a plane, these are recorders on the ship. It records conversations on the deck. It also records navigational information so they can get hard data once they find that. But first they have to locate where the ship is bottom of the very deep water.

TAPPER: All right, Rene Marsh, thank you so much.

Coming up, a first on THE LEAD, our own Tom Foreman joining us as he runs in one of his favorite spots. He'll tell us about his year of running dangerously, next.



TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. Our Pop Culture Lead today, running around the block for some of us, well, it takes a lot. But running a few half marathons and then a couple of full marathons and then an ultra-marathon, all in one year, well, that takes a special kind of perseverance, dare I say insanity.

That's what CNN's Tom Foreman did after his daughter persuaded him to pick up running with her. Joining me now via Skype and selfie stick from the forest of Bethesda, CNN's running man, Tom Foreman, author of the new book, "My Year Of Running Dangerously."

Tom, you're out on the trail right now. This is how dedicated you are to running. We're in a time-consuming and unpredictable industry. A lot of people can relate to working long hours. How did you make time for running especially the type of running you're doing, 10 miles, 15 miles at a clip.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A lot of early mornings and a lot of late nights. But also being dedicated to saying, when I was going out, finding the time of day. We find to time for jobs, hobbies, responsibilities. This has to be one of the things to tend do, Jake.

TAPPER: Your book is great. It's about more than just running, it's about dedication, hard work. What do you say to people inspired by you but say there's no way they could do what you do?

FOREMAN: I say I was exactly like you for a long, long time. When you have small children, it's a hard thing to do because they're just a lot of demands. Maybe you can't take on long, long races or only do them in short bites.

A big part is about time management and recognizing the time you really have if you put aside all of the things that we normally waste time on. Slide those aside, you have a lot of time for doing many things that may be valuable, whether running or something else.

TAPPER: In fact, you were able to combine love of running with love of family. You tackled this together with your daughter, who was in her freshman year of college at the time. How did that shared interest help your relationship as it changed from, you know, daughter living with you in your house, young girl to young woman?

FOREMAN: You know, what Jake, when people get older -- and the book is about getting older and change and changing relationships -- things have to change. You can't have the same relationship with an 18 or 19 or 20-year-old that you had with an 11-year-old.

Running became not just for my daughter, my older daughter and I, but for my younger daughter, Ali and wife as well, we all picked up a new language of running. It became something we could share in a more adult way than the things we did as kids. Now we all run together at various times.

TAPPER: Your sense of humor is well known throughout the office here. Certainly shows throughout the book you describe running the marathon and trying to get your daughter through by giving her energy beans.

You say, quote, "A fleeting moment of winding up hopelessly hooked living in a shelter, running all day, hanging out near sports stores pan handling beans to keep herself going. I have no one to blame but myself, dad. Bean pusher."

Beside those magical beans, how did you get you and your daughter to keep going even when it seemed impossible, when you wanted to collapse?

FOREMAN: I worried more about her schedule than mine because it was difficult starting college. But really what we said was, always, sounds like a simple formula but true of anything, at least we've learned it is, just take the next step.

You don't worry about the next 13 miles or next 15 miles or next 26 or 50 miles. You say I may or may not get there, but I can get from here to the corner, if I can get from here to the corner and the next corner I can get something going. That's the mantra of ultra-runners keep going and you'll get there eventually.

TAPPER: Just focus on the next step. Good advice for all things. Tom, I'll get you get back to your run. The book "My Year of Running Dangerously" by CNN's Tom Foreman. Thanks so much. Don't get a shin splint out there.

FOREMAN: See you.

TAPPER: That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Turning you over right now to one Mr. Wolf Blitzer, he is right next door in a place we like to call "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching.